Upon moving to Southern California three years ago, I always had a curiosity for photography, but never quite jumped the gun to explore this artistic genre further. Thus, I pushed myself to improve my photography skills by setting up frequent media tastings so that I could practice capturing various appetizers and entrees prepared by reputable restaurants. With every restaurant collaboration, I felt myself getting better and better. In fact, there was enough improvement for me to at least contemplate if I should become a full-time photographer or not.
Shortly after this self-reflection of my photography experience, I attended a media tasting event and ended up having a discouraging conversation with a few individuals. I excitedly showed them my photography portfolio and expected quite the opposite of what actually happened. Instead of praise, encouragement, or helpful feedback, I received blunt criticism such as “your work is not sell-worthy” and “you need a lot more practice”.
For some reason, I allowed their judgmental words and lingering phrases to haunt me for years to come. In other words, I allowed what they said to take total control of my future. From that day forth, I repeated their words to myself every time I picked up my DSLR and eventually convinced myself that I should stop trying to get better at photography because I lacked the talent to become a professional photographer. Hence, for the next few years after that discussion, I shot my subjects with a blind eye, having fun with the process, but never trying to better my work.
Three years later, I eventually woke up from this daunting realization and realized just how WRONG I was for allowing criticism from individuals who offered me no context or support in regards to improving my work. First off, these individuals simply shot me down without giving me any additional information on WHY my content was not sell-worthy. Secondly, I realized that I was not even close to these individuals and that they probably perceived me as a threat or competition since we were in the same industry.
As soon as I woke up from this realization, I knew that this was the time to give photography another shot – but with 110% more effort and passion than ever before. After offering back-to-back complimentary photoshoots for friends and scheduling out my entire weekend to shoot and edit content, I eventually was able to book paid projects and now work with several clients to capture high quality social media imagery for their social pages and websites.
The moral of this story is that you have the power to change your life and mindset at any given moment in time. You can either let the judgment and disapproval from others run your life, or you can take control of your life by doing what’s best – chasing your dreams with a heart full of hustle and passion. Nowadays, I cannot even imagine what my life would have turned out like if I allowed their negative words to affect me to this very day, but I am truly glad that a life like that doesn’t exist.
By regaining my self-confidence and truly believing in myself, I ended up exploring opportunities and pathways that I never knew existed and became the best version of myself at the end of the day. When you set your heart on a goal, the only person who can really stop you is yourself. Be your own cheerleader, be your own teacher, be your own entrepreneur, and do not let anybody tell you what you are not capable of because only you have the power to be the judge of that.
If you have a hustler’s mentality and work ethic, a burning passion to reach your goal, and are willing to dedicate the time to meet that goal, trust me when I say that you will be closer to your goal every passing day. Learn to adapt or strategize if necessary, but never stop trying or give up easily. By acknowledging what you want to achieve in life and how you plan to get there, you are already halfway to your destination. Enjoy the ride, and reward yourself with every little accomplishment that you make towards your end goal. You already know that I will be waiting for you at the finish line.
Michelle is a full time content creator and photographer. She loves self care and sharing advice to live your best life; follow her on Instagram at @missmisschelle.